Shopping in Vietnam – What To Get And Where To Buy
During your visit to Vietnam, it is a good idea to bring something back with you to commemorate your trip. If you are going to stay for a while, then you may also want to invest in clothes or buy food in bulk. What can you buy while you are staying in Vietnam? We will cover that in this article.
What can you bring from Vietnam?
Vietnam has a wide set of rules regulating what you can and cannot bring with you from Vietnam. There are laws mostly considering alcohol, cigarettes, and antiques. To prevent counterfeiting and smuggling, people are required to file customs reports about their luggage.
Some other items also fall under the customs declaration, and if you are importing large amounts of electronics like laptops and smartphones, you may have to fill out a customs declaration.
However, in most cases, you may take small items like souvenirs and clothes, without any special restrictions, and your luggage will not be inspected.
You may export unlimited amounts of electronic equipment if it is consumer-grade if you can prove it has been purchased from local organizations. Otherwise, you will have to pay customs tax or have excess equipment confiscated.
The most important law that tourists have to put up with is the law about antiques. It is not legal to export any antique item from the country, and there is only one way to get a souvenir you like. If you bought an old-looking or handcrafted item and are suspicious about it classifying as an antique, go ahead and ask the seller if it has a certificate that says it is applicable for export. Otherwise, you may face difficulties or even have your souvenir confiscated if it turns out to be classified as an antique item.
Overall, it is a good idea to keep all the checks and receipts from your stay in the country so you can prove you were there and bought all you are taking with you. Otherwise, you may have difficulties in the customs office.
What you may export
You may bring no more than 400 cigarettes, 100 cigars or 500 grams of pure tobacco. No more than 2 liters of alcohol weaker than 22 degrees, and no more than 3 liters of beer.
No more than 3 kilograms of coffee or 5 kg of tea.
The overall price of the luggage you are taking should be no more than 50,000 VND, which is equivalent to 250 dollars. You may take more, but you have to declare it in the customs office.
You are allowed to take any amount of cash in any possible currency, both in USD and VND. However, any amount of money more than 5,000 dollars must be declared in the customs office at the airport. Any amount of gold more than 300 grams in weight must also be declared in the customs office.
What to buy
There are many things you can buy in Vietnam that you will not be able to find in the rest of the world. We will list the most popular things to buy in Vietnam.
Fruits (fresh and dried)
Fruits are abundant in Vietnam and are available at a very low price. As the markets are near the cities, you will always have access to fresh fruits. The small stalls and stands in the city will sell dried fruit for a low price too. Overall, the fruit is probably the best purchase you’ll make in Vietnam because of the price to value ratio.
Available fruits include jackfruit, mango, durian, and the entire family of citrus fruits. These are always present in markets, and farmers bring them every day. They are freshly picked, so you probably will not find old or overly ripe fruits for sale.
There is a prevalent coffee culture in Vietnam, and there are many places where it is grown, so it sells for rather low prices. In restaurants you will find many kinds of coffee that you would otherwise not find anywhere else, so you should use this chance to try as many of them as you can. There are some unusual varieties like egg coffee, which sounds weird at first but turns out to be quite tasty sometimes.
One interesting drink worth mentioning is Kopi Luwak, or civet coffee, which is produced in Vietnam and has a distinctly different taste than regular coffee. It may be exported too.
Other National Food
There are some notable local foods, which you cannot buy in the rest of the world. Today, you can get some of these dishes shipped in other countries, but they are usually not as good as the original.
One of these is the Phu Quoc pepper, which is a local cultivar of pepper that is grown on Phu Quoc island. It has a more mellow taste than regular pepper, is not as hot, and is, therefore, added to more dishes. This pepper is a component in many local soups, and we advise you to try some of them.
Fish sauce is also made in large quantities in Phu Quoc and is exported to the rest of Vietnam. It is a sauce made from fish or krill that have fermented in a salt solution for up to two years. The liquid that is produced in this process is drained away from the rest and stored in bottles. It is usually mixed with some water and a little sugar. The sauce imparts a pleasant rich flavor to most food, especially meat dishes. Therefore, it is highly praised and sold in most food stores in Vietnam.
Tea, just like coffee, has a cultural following in Vietnam and is praised as an important drink there.
It is highly advised for you to go to a local restaurant and sample the varieties of tea, which are offered in Vietnam.
Coconut candies, made with coconut milk and paste, are also an element of the native cuisine, and they are present in large quantities on the market, where you can buy them with different flavors and colorings. These candies are a staple of Vietnamese sweets and always bear the distinct taste of coconut.
Another interesting dish is green rice. It is also simply called Com and is rice that has been harvested while still green and unripe. Only glutinous kinds of rice are used to make Com. After being harvested and ground, the rice is toasted until hard, and this also brings out a unique flavor. hen cooked, the rice is not green but rather a yellowish color, and its flavor is very different from regular rice.
Clothes and jewelry are among the best items to buy in Vietnam, as they are offered at great prices, and you can buy a huge variety. The best buy is the national silk dress, the Ao Dai. It is a common item in the markets, and you can buy them in any color and style. They are usually bought as souvenirs.
The Non la hats, which are the trademark conical hats associated with agriculture, are also sold on the markets, and again, are also bought as souvenirs.
Silk is cheap in Vietnam, and it is sold in rolls in the markets for very cheap prices. Hand embroidery and handcrafted cloth is offered as well.
This is the most well-known category of goods in the markets in Vietnam and is the first thing tourists go for when they get to the market. Here are many interesting handcrafted things, both small and large, that you can take home with you as a reminder of your travel to Vietnam.
The various souvenirs are usually made of bamboo or wood because those are the materials traditionally used for crafting. The most popular souvenirs are wooden figures, various musical instruments from bamboo and wood, and pottery, which is always lacquered and painted bright colors. Also, calligraphy and paintings are often bought.
While simple electronics are offered at record low prices, most complex electronics, like smartphones and computers, are offered at prices a little lower or equal to those in other countries.
Vietnam Shopping Guide
Here, we will explain what you can expect to buy and at what price.
How to evaluate quality?
The quality of most things can be evaluated rather simply.
Beware of fakes because, in some places, you may find counterfeit merchandise.
Nonetheless, that does not happen often, so simply look for markers that the manufacturer leaves on products – this will help you identify if you are buying real merchandise or not.
How to evaluate prices?
Prices in Vietnam are almost always lower than prices in other countries. In fact, the markets in Vietnam are considered among the cheapest places to shop for any kind of goods. So you may freely expect to buy everything at lower prices.
What are the best places to buy in Vietnam?
You can expect everything at good prices in the night markets. Those places are open every day, and there will always be something new or interesting to buy there.